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County youth need better access to athletic facilities and resources

Posted: June 12, 2014 11:39 a.m.
Updated: June 13, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Well, another year of AAU basketball and it has definitely been a pleasure, so far.
I’ve had some of the best parents in the last four years since we first started so I would like to say thank you to everyone. This year, we are more focused on trying to get the kids scholarships and stop playing for championships. We’ve decided to try to play in more college tournament showcases, where the kids can show their talent and be seen by college coaches, instead of playing for championships and trophies. I believe the kids will value more of what you’re doing --- and the parents, also --- when they realize that you’re trying to take their child to the next level. I have focused more on trying to promote positive thinking and a positive attitude which brings a successful young mind on and off the court.
We made it to the nationals, which is a great accomplishment for our organization. We qualified last year but did not go. This year, we are going to Orlando, Fla. This is why I am asking for help from the community and surrounding areas because these kids have worked very hard to try and get to this event. Even though in some tournaments we had the smallest team in the whole division, they did very well; they never gave up and battled to the end.
I am also proud of the fact that some of our kids got approached by college coaches. That made me so happy because it felt like we were finally getting somewhere. Since day one, when I started AAU basketball, I always felt that between Lee County and Kershaw County that we have the talent to compete with any team from anywhere, we just need make our kids see that they shouldn’t have to go over to Columbia or another place to have a good quality basketball team and to be able to compete.
One of our biggest problems this year was finding a facility to practice. Sometimes, we ended up practicing outside when it’s hot but we had to keep on moving and not let anything get in our way and I had good parents to support that.
It does puzzle me that sometimes people want you to do things for the kids, but then when you try to do things for kids you don’t get the support. A friend of mine is a man that I have admired since we moved here over 20 years ago. He started his own program also, called Vision Academy, in which he promotes positive and mentoring. But he also has a problem with finding a place for the kids to practice and people don’t realize that we don’t charge for this … it’s free.
We take our time and we go out of our way to make sure the kids can try to get the best thing that we can offer. We may not always do it the way that people want us to do it, but at least we are making an effort. I’ve yet to understand why we aren’t opening the doors to more programs for positive people who are trying to do positive things for the kids.
I hope to, one day, have it set up so that these kids can get proper training in all sports. What people fail to realize is that you have a lot of talent and knowledge in these areas of people who didn’t go to college and I know that some people think that just because you didn’t go to college that you don’t have the knowledge to coach basketball; and that’s where they are wrong. There are some people out there that weren’t able to afford it or just didn’t have the right person pushing them to go to college and know more about basketball than some of these coaches who went to college and got a degree.
I know some people who have played pro ball with professional athletes like Ray Allen of the Miami Heat, but some of them just didn’t go to college. But they can teach you drills and skills on basketball that we spent a whole lot of whole lot of money taking them over to other places to get trained when they can set it up to get them trained here. This is what I’m looking to do but again, we don’t have the facilities or we have a problem getting the facilities to perform this act and these guys are willing to do it for free.
Some people don’t realize that travel ball also benefits the (high school) coaches of that particular sport because it allows the kids to play that particular sport all year ‘round and keep their skill level up. Some coaches, I find, have a problem with other sports because they don’t coach that sport so they don’t want a big kid playing in travel ball when it doesn’t pertain to their sport. But what if a good kid is not good in baseball or football or soccer or volleyball but he’s good at basketball, volleyball, baseball … he may be good at football so, why deny him  the chance to get seen just because he’s not playing in  your particular field? He may not get a college offer in your sport but he may get a college offer in another sport.
I think we should find a way to open some of these gyms; open up these parks and bring people in there who really want to train and help these kids get to the next level.
We were in Augusta, Ga., and I saw some professional athletes and I asked the question: “Why don’t a lot of athletes come back to their hometown or to the high school to help promote athletics?” And this is what was told to me. “Why come back to a place that we felt we never left from?”
That comment left me puzzled. They said, “Let me explain. What is there for us to come back to? Yes, we played high school sports and got recognition but that’s where it stopped. Most of us either had to get our parents and drive ourselves somewhere out of that particular town to get 101 training or to get trained and by someone else in another area because our town didn’t offer this. I don’t have the facilities or not trying to get facilities to help us get to the next level. And really what is there for us to come back to we are going back where we really got our training from?”
So, my question is how come we cannot start providing facilities and training for our kids here? Why can’t we set up areas where we can have our kids and other kids come to us to be scouted by college coaches? That’s my next goal.
I thank you and thank you for the support.

Willie DuBose

SC-Ballers

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